« Go Back

HIV Risk From Used Syringe & Needle

Question: 

Hi,

I am from India. Recently I had contacted Flu and went to a local clinic. The nurse gave me flu shot vaccine/injection and ever since then i am surrounded with this fear whether he might have given me injection with an used needle or syringe as i noticed that the clinic was not clean and several needles were lying there. I did not notice the nurse tearing a fresh needle to give me medicine. So i would like to know if in case the nurse used a dirty needle on me what are the chances of me acquiring HIV? I am going mad since that day as i feel that in a third world country like India, it is possible for nurses to used dirty needles on patients. Please help as i have read that such incidents may transmit hiv. What if he used a dirty syringe or a needle previously used on a hiv+ patient to draw blood or to give vaccine. Has anyone till date been infected by such a way? I am in deep fear/anxiety as i simply cannot put this thought behind my mind ever since that day. I understand that flu shot is given intramuscular but still the needle penetrates the flesh and is exposed to blood inside. What if there was blood inside the syringe mixed with flu vaccine medicine? The nurse injected the flu shot needle on my waist muscle and it hurt a bit. So I am very worried. I am expecting a thorough explanation for my situation as I really do not want to come up again and again asking clarification so I want someone to give me full explanation about my case whether I should be worried or not and do i need to test for hiv. I know that you will say this is not possible that a nurse will not use a dirty needle or a syringe. but still if this actually happened what are my risk?

Thanks

Answer: 

Hi there, thanks for contacting the AIDS Vancouver Helpline with your HIV related questions/concerns. We're happy to help!

I am sorry to hear that you're concerned over this situation, but hopefully my answer helps to clarify some things.

I would just like to state that it's very unlikely for a nurse to have used a dirty needle, as health care settings aim to DECREASE infections, rather than increase the spread of them. This is an unlikely situation, and here at AIDS Vancouver we generally don't entertain "what if" questions, but since I was not present and I'm not aware of the exact situation, I will outline the risks of needle sharing for you.

Injecting with a shared needle is considered a High Risk activity due to the exchange of bodily fluids. The barrel of a syringe provides a temporary environment where the virus can survive, then injecting the virus with the needle provides an opportunity for infection.

That being said, I want to stress that with vaccines, they usually come in individual packages, and they're not reusable. It is HIGHLY unlikely for this to have been the case in a health care setting, even in a third world country, so there isn't reason to be overly concerned.

However, if you're feeling the need to get a test, the NAAT early tests are most accurate immediately till around 3 weeks post exposure, and conclusive results for antibody tests are at 12 weeks post exposure.

I hope this helped. Please visit this webpage to learn more about HIV transmission: http://www.avert.org/hiv-transmission-prevention/how-you-get-hiv

Sincerely,

Christina

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online
Private & Confidential